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Book Review: Wheat Belly

Could Wheat be the Cause of Your Belly?

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

By

Updated July 01, 2012

In a Nutshell

Wheat Belly is a book by William Davis, M.D., that explains how eliminating wheat from your diet can help you lose weight and improve health. It ascribes special benefits for those with type 2 diabetes, especially for those who have intolerance or an allergy to wheat or gluten. This book describes how wheat has changed since ancient times and goes into modern growing and processing techniques. It goes into detail about how modern-day wheat could be to blame for many of today's health epidemics like insulin resistance. It lays out a diet or lifestyle that could help reverse these problems.

Pros

  • Interesting read
  • Easy to understand
  • "Quick and Dirty" information offered on the author's blog
  • Offers interesting diabetes information
  • Cons

  • Calls this lifestyle a "cure" for diabetes
  • Cheating on diet could cause stomach pain
  • Very restrictive diet may not be realistic for some
  • Guide Review

    Wheat Belly, a book by William Davis, M.D., has 13 chapters divided into three parts. The first part has three chapters that delve into what wheat used to be and what it has evolved into. The second nine chapters go into detail about how wheat is detrimental to health with one chapter dedicated to how wheat is connected to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The other chapters in this section focus on specific health problems that range from brain fog to wrinkles. The last part explains how to say goodbye to wheat. The book also contains recipes and help for recognizing foods that contain wheat.

    This book offers some interesting food for thought when considering wheat in modern times. It points out that the wheat you find on today's supermarket shelves is nothing like wheat of ancient times. Today's wheat is the result of hybridization of the plant to produce high-yield dwarf hybrid strains that are easier to harvest and have a shorter growing season. While that all bodes well and good for easier processing and higher profits, what does it mean to your body? This book tries to answer that.

    The author gives a good argument against the type of hybridization he calls "bad breeding." He also understandably asks why the question of animal or human safety is never raised when staple food crops are hybridized for the purpose of increasing profit. He instills a little more fear of wheat by pointing out that genetic modification may become more commonplace and may change wheat even further.

    In the diabetes chapter, he provides answers to questions many people with diabetes have. For example, why do some foods with lower glycemic index (GI) ratings seem to cause elevated and problematic blood sugar levels. The author explains that foods like pasta can raise your blood sugar 4-6 hours after consumption for a sustained period. However, the GI number assigned to foods is based on just a 2-hour measurement, so the GI number can be misleading.

    I also like that the author tries to show the connections between high insulin levels, insulin resistance, cravings, and weight gain that lead to the typical diabetes belly full of deep visceral fat. He also explains why we sometimes experience mental fog and fatigue as a result.

    In a nutshell, the diet is similar to a raw food diet but it includes unlimited cheese and raw food is just encouraged. The reader is asked to eat natural whole foods such as vegetables, raw nuts, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. The use of healthy oils such as olive, walnut, and coconut oils is touted. Besides wheat, foods that are eliminated include cured meats, fried foods, corn meal products, and processed foods.

    My Take

    This is an interesting book. Wheat and gluten allergies or intolerance are more common in people with type 2 diabetes. I have to admit I'm in that club. If you also suffer from this, this book may be helpful to you. I'm not sure how helpful it would be if you do not have this problem.

    This book calls the diet a "cure" for diabetes. If you have read other book reviews written by me, you will know that I have a pet peeve when diets call themselves a cure. Diet and lifestyle changes are powerful, but just like medications, if you discontinue then diabetes will express itself again.

    I'm glad the author points out this diet might cause weight gain in certain cases, such as in underweight malnourished celiac sufferers. This is because the elimination of wheat will improve their digestive function. Along these digestive lines, many people with diabetes suffer from gastroparesis or delayed gastric emptying which requires avoidance of high-fiber foods such as those in this diet. This situation complicates diabetes management because most people with diabetes are told to eat high-fiber foods. Because of this, and other possible conflicting factors, talk with your doctor before deciding to try this program, particularly if you suffer from digestive problems or have other complications.

    The book also mentions if you remove wheat from your diet and then cheat, even just a little, you could experience digestive problems, cramps, and gas if you have an intolerance. I can attest to that. Years ago I eliminated wheat from my diet for months. When I ate a cheese filled pastry, I experienced scary excruciating abdominal pain. I'm glad the author takes the time to explain this could happen if you decide to follow this diet.

    Finally, this diet is full of healthy nutritious foods. However, because you would be eliminating a major staple food, I would suggest getting professional guidance to make sure your diet remains balanced. This is a very restrictive diet and would be a challenge for most people, but if you have a wheat or gluten intolerance, it might be worth considering.

    Even if you don't decide to follow this diet, I still think it's worth a read for a new look at wheat and offering another viewpoint or angle on diabetes.

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